Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen
|Also known as||NHØP, The Great Dane with |
the Never-Ending Name
|Born||27 May 1946|
Osted, Zealand, Denmark
|Died||19 April 2005 (aged 58)|
|Genres||Jazz, bebop, hard bop, avant-garde jazz|
|Associated acts||Albert Ayler, Chet Baker, Count Basie, Kenny Drew, Roy Eldridge, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Milt Jackson, Slide Hampton, Roland Kirk, Tete Montoliu, Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Sonny Rollins, George Shearing, Archie Shepp, Ben Webster|
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (Danish pronunciation: [nelsˈhɛneŋ ˈɶɐ̯stəð ˈpʰɛðɐsn̩], 27 May 1946 – 19 April 2005), often known as NHØP, was a Danish jazz upright bassist known for his technique and musical approach.
Ørsted Pedersen was born in Osted, near Roskilde, on the Danish island of Zealand, the son of a church organist. As a child, Ørsted Pedersen played piano, but from the age of 13, he started learning to play upright bass and at the age of 14, while studying, he began his professional jazz career in Denmark with his first band, Jazzkvintet 60 (Danish for Jazz Quintet 60). By the age of fifteen, he had the ability to accompany leading musicians at nightclubs, working regularly at Copenhagen's Jazzhus Montmartre, after his debut there on New Year's Eve 1961, when he was only 15. When seventeen, he had already turned down an offer to join the Count Basie orchestra, mainly because he was too young to get legal permission to live and work as a musician in the United States.
The Montmartre was a regular stop-off for touring American Jazz stars, and as a member of the house band, the young Ørsted Pedersen performed with saxophonists such as Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Stan Getz, and pianist Bill Evans, with whom he toured in Europe in 1965. During the 1960s, Ørsted Pedersen played with a series of other important American jazzmen who were touring or resident in Denmark, including Ben Webster, Brew Moore, Bud Powell, Count Basie, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Jackie McLean, and vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. He also played with Jean-Luc Ponty, and became the bassist of choice whenever a big-name musician was touring Copenhagen.
Ørsted Pedersen worked in duo and trio arrangements with pianist Kenny Drew, recording over 50 albums together. He also worked with Stéphane Grappelli and Joe Pass and recorded extensively as a leader. His best known songs are "My Little Anna", "Jaywalkin'", and "The Puzzle", as well as jazz arrangements of traditional Danish folk songs. A duo performance with Rune Gustafsson at Vossajazz 1980, concluded on the album Just The Way You Are on the label Sonet Gramofon, recorded half a year after this first meeting. He was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1991. This was the first time this prize for composition was awarded to a performing musician, and this must be ascribed to his great international standing. He was presumably the most sought-after Danish instrumentalist internationally ever, and had traveled and recorded with a series of the greatest jazz soloists internationally.
Ørsted Pedersen also had a particular ability to interpret Danish songs and folk melodies. He often played within trio ensembles, partly collectively with the trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg and the keyboard player Kenneth Knudsen, and partly under his own name, usually with guitarists like Philip Catherine and Ulf Wakenius. In 1999, he co-led a duo with pianist Mulgrew Miller, touring Europe, Japan, Australia, and Korea. This format was later enlarged into a trio featuring drummer Alvin Queen. This trio remained intact until Pedersen's death.
Allow me to express my reaction to his playing this way: First and foremost, he never got in my way--but he also had such a great musical perception of what I was trying to do that he served to greatly inspire me from a spontaneous aspect. I came off walking on Cloud 3000 that evening because of Niels' musical contribution. He had the most phenomenal technique, coupled with incredible harmonic perception, along with impeccable time. I shall never forget that evening.Almost from that evening on, we became very close friends, not just musically but most certainly personally, for I developed a great admiration for the depth of Niels' political, geographical and personal understandings. He was a man who had an almost unbelievable wealth of historic cognizance pertaining to European history. He also had a very kindred spirit as a human being, always able to easily make good friends, should he care to do so.
Oscar Peterson, writing in Jazztimes.
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